Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Continued to Plummet Over the Summer Due to COVID-19 July 28, 2020

Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Continued to Plummet Over the Summer Due to COVID-19

Attendance at Ark Encounter dropped precipitously in March due to COVID-19, bottomed out in April, and slowly began growing back in May and June… but it’s nowhere near their usual attendance.

Thanks to multiple public record requests by local paleontologist Dan Phelps, we now have the numbers for April, May, and June. You can read more background about how it’s calculated here.

Here are all the attendance numbers we know along with the Safety Fee that Answers in Genesis has paid to the city of Williamstown. (The public nature of that fee is how we know the attendance numbers at all.)

Month 2017 (Fee) 2018 (Fee) 2019 (Fee) 2020 (Fee) Notes
January 13,250 ($6,625.00) 14,885 ($7,442.50) 15,790 ($7,895.00) (Increase from previous year: 905)
February 17,961 ($8,980.50) 16,328 ($8,164.00) 17,290 ($8,645.00) (Increase from previous year: 962)
March 62,251 ($31,125.50) 70,466 ($35,233.00) 15,145 ($7,572.50) (Decrease from previous year: 55,321)
April 67,613 ($33,806.50) 79,908 ($39,954.00) 0 ($0) (Decrease from previous year: 79,908)
May 73,353 ($36,676.50) 90,803 ($45,401.50) 2,047 ($1,023.50) (Decrease from previous year: 88,756)
June 113,901 ($56,950.50) 124,230 ($62,115.00) 40,434 ($20,217.00) (Decrease from previous year: 83,796)
July 142,626 ($71,313.00) 135,922 ($67,961.00) 160,124 ($80,062.00) (Increase from previous year: 24,202)
August 106,161 ($53,080.50) 98,106 ($49,053.00) 104,350 ($52,175.00) (Increase from previous year: 6,244)
September 83,330 ($41,665.00) 69,207 ($34,603.50) 73,541 ($36,770.50) (Increase from previous year: 4,334)
October 93,659 ($46,829.50) 89,434 ($44,717.00) 86,988 ($43,494.00) (Drop from previous year: 2,446)
November 51,914 ($25,957.00) 40,193 ($20,096.50) 37,686 ($18,881.00) (Drop from previous year: 2,507)
December 36,472 ($18,236.00) 46,400 ($24,200.00) 37,880 ($18,940.00) (Drop from previous year: 8,520)

Keep in mind all of this is happening as Ark Encounter is dealing with a (hilarious) million-dollar lawsuit involving rain damage.

The Ark didn’t shut down until March 17, but it’s clear there was lower attendance in the weeks prior to that, too. Their on-site conferences also had to be postponed. Like other tourist attractions, they’ve missed out on Spring Break trips, summer vacations, and warmer weather in general. Most workers at the Ark were also temporarily laid off. They finally reopened on June 7.

(Why were there any ticket sales in May, then? Presumably those were bought by people in advance of their future visits.)

That said, the Ark’s parent company, Crosswater Canyon, received between $1 million and $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. And Ham also raised at least $1,135,009 in a separate fundraiser to offset COVID-related losses.

Remember that actual attendance is higher than these numbers represent because kids get in for free, as do members with lifetime passes. But giving away freebies to children and life members doesn’t help the local economy as much as drawing in first-time customers who are ready to spend money or conference attendees who are there for another reason.

(Large portions of this article were published earlier)

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